A paid internship is an integral part of the learning experience of the student. It enables the individual to integrate the art and science of the profession taught at the college or university with the practical existing problems in the community or industry to produce a person who is current, knowledgeable, and ready to work at many different tasks. The intern is under the close supervision of a licensed environmental health practitioner at the worksite as well as the university coordinator. The worksite meets the professional standards of environmental health practice based on tested principles and practices. The student is provided a planned and rigorous experience, where he or she works 40 hours a week for 10-15 weeks per internship experience and is expected to complete all tasks in a timely and professional manner as any other member of the full-time staff. In addition, the student is required to keep a daily log of activities and to complete a college-level paper on a special project which is of value to the employer. The student should present orally the major findings and recommendations to the staff of the employing agency in a special meeting. He or she should also learn to respond to questions concerning the study, and when the individual does not have an answer, tell the questioner that he or she will investigate the issue and send a proper response in writing.
The student learns the practical problem-solving approach to resolving issues while performing an effective service for the employer. The student gains practical experience, refines his or her basic environmental health skills, refines his or her communication skills, learns to work with people, learns to identify the sources of problems and make reasonable recommendations, develops techniques for studying major problems in depth, learns to prepare comprehensive reports, and learns the fine points of professionalism.
The student receives an appropriate remuneration for the work, which allows for housing, food, and other personal expenses as well as some assistance with tuition and books. The student should receive appropriate reimbursement for the use of a vehicle while at work.
On December 15, 1969, under United States Public Health Service contract number CPS-69-002, Indiana State University was awarded a grant to develop the modern concept of the environmental health internship. A 100-page set of guidelines was developed by the author, presented to the US Public Health Service, and then used at Indiana State University for the next 25 years as well as many other universities with environmental health internship programs. Indiana State University placed and supervised 1100 paid interns in 70 different health departments and industries in local, state, and federal employment in 28 different states. The 500 graduates from the accredited program served a minimum of two distinctly different internships including one at a local level that was general in nature and the other which could be specialized. Some students served three different internships.